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85th Texas Legislature Roundup


Below are some of the important bills from the 85th Texas Legislature that were sent to the Governor or have been signed by the Governor. 

Important Bills
Voter ID
SB 5
Status: Sent to the Governor 
Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Voter ID, also known as Senate Bill 5, was a last-minute addition to the Legislature’s list of emergency items. “I think we’ve made some reasonable concessions on voter ID,” said state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth. The Legislature acted after a court ruling said lawmakers in 2011 discriminated against minorities when passing the voter ID law. The goal of the 2017 bill was to soften requirements in Texas and avoid further court action. SB 5 still requires Texas voters to show photo ID when voting. It still allows voters without IDs to fill out forms stating if and why they couldn’t obtain the ID, but anyone caught lying on the forms would face a state jail felony.
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Pension Reform
SB 2190
Status: Signed by the Governor
Pensions & Investments - The Texas Legislature approved a pension reform bill for Houston's three pension funds. The bill includes benefit reductions for participants in the three pension funds that would help reduce the $8.2 billion in total unfunded liabilities. The pension reform package also requires Houston to make the full annual required contributions to the $3.9 billion Houston Police Officers' Pension System, $3.8 billion Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund and $2.3 billion Houston Municipal Employees Pension System; adopts a 30-year closed amortization schedule to pay off the remaining unfunded liabilities across the three pension funds; and calls for the issuance of pension obligation bonds to further reduce liabilities. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Joan Huffman, with input and support from Harris County conservative and business leaders, ensured the legislation includes fail-safe provisions to transition these retirement systems to sounder, more reliable "cash-balance" plans if the City's hoped-for investment goals are not met by targeted dates, so that City employees are treated fairly and Houston taxpayers are protected in the future.
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Straight Ticket Voting
HB 25
Status: Sent to the Governor
mySanAntonio.com - The Texas Senate has approved House Bill 25 which would end straight-ticket voting for all elections in Texas. Beginning in 2020, voters will not be able to automatically cast their ballot for every candidate from a single party. Supporters of this bill believe straight-party voting has the potential to pull a voter's attention away from down-ballot candidates for certain offices, which most directly affect the voter. By eliminating this 'one punch' system, it could incentivize people to ensure they have researched and are fully informed as to who is on the ballot. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states do not allow straight-ticket voting.
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Pro-Life Legislation
SB8
Status: Sent to the Governor
Rewire.News - Senate Bill 8 would amend Texas law regarding certain prohibited abortions and the treatment and disposition of a human fetus, human fetal tissue, and other tissue resulting from pregnancy. The bill would prohibit a physician or other person from knowingly performing a “partial birth” abortion, unless it was necessary to save the life of a pregnant patient whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the  pregnancy. A person who violates this provision would face a state jail felony.
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Deterring Voter Fraud
HB 658
Status: Sent to the Governor
Texas Legislature Online - The bill would amend the Election Code allowing an election officer to give priority to a person who has a mobility problem that substantially impairs the person's ability to ambulate. A notice must be posted at one or more locations in each polling place, on the website of the Secretary of State,and on the website relating to elections maintained by a county. The bill would amend the Election Code and Health and Safety Code allowing certain persons at a residential care facility to request a mail in ballot and allow early voting at residential care facilities. The bill would take effect September 1, 2017. The Secretary of State anticipates being able to carry out any additional responsibilities from the bill with existing resources.
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Sanctuary Cities 
SB4
Status: Signed by the Governor
Midland Reporter-Telegram - The objective of SB 4 is to identify dangerous criminals, not detain hardworking families or innocent children. SB 4 requires law enforcement agencies to honor ICE detainers issued for violent criminals. The goal is to prevent the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. Dangerous criminals shouldn't be released back onto the streets to be able to commit more crimes.
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Harris County Delegation
A special congratulations to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Joan Huffman who were named in Capitol Inside's Best of the Texas Legislature 2017. 
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